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By SHAINA STOCKTON, Staff
In keeping with his promise, Galax Rite Aid pharmacist Dustin Thomas sat on a chair while coworker Amy Parsons sheared off his locks with a set of clippers. Since the goal was to shave him completely bald, Thomas told her to “have fun with it.”
And she did.
“It’s not every day you get to shave your boss’ head,” laughed Parsons. She grinned mischievously as another employee replayed a video of the haircut taken with her phone.
Standing nearby, smiling and laughing, was Sharon Hensdell, a regular customer at the pharmacy who had been diagnosed with breast cancer over the summer. Treatment required that she go through chemotherapy, and she had expressed to Thomas that she was afraid of losing her hair.
Thomas had promised her then that if she lost her hair, so would he.
After working for two-and-a-half years at the pharmacy, this was Thomas’s first opportunity to offer such a gesture. He told the Gazette that he had known Hensdell ever since he began working there, and that she had been a regular customer long before that.
After she went through chemotherapy, Thomas followed through on his promise, and Hensdell’s entire family was invited to watch the hair fly.
“They had a lot of fun with it,” he said. “They shaved the sides first... they played around with it a lot.”
He took down one picture off the back of the pharmacy wall that showed the full extent of the follicle carnage that had taken place. Even and odd patches of long and short hair made the back of his head look like a farm landscape from the viewpoint of a skydiver.
Of course, in the end everything was evened out, and Thomas even admitted that the new buzz cut felt pretty good. In time though, he noted that he would grow it back.
“It’s actually growing back out now,” he said, running his hand over his scalp. “If she wanted me to do it again though, I would.”
In his line of work, Thomas said that personal relationships are formed with the community, and that it is difficult to see their struggles. “We wanted her to know that we were behind her,” said Thomas. “She’s such a positive, upbeat person, and we wanted to do something to keep her spirits up.”
The gesture worked, and Thomas said that the smile he got was well worth the trim.
“I’ll never forget this,” she told him.